We can start celebrating Christmas before Thanksgiving

We can start celebrating Christmas before Thanksgiving

November is nearing its end, and I have yet again found myself in the middle of one of the season’s most heated disputes. 

It splits families. It strains friendships. Both sides of the aisle are met with ready derision from the opposition. Yet, every year, the debate begins again: Is it appropriate to start celebrating Christmas before Thanksgiving?

How can we express our gratitude and prepare for Tryptophan comas with “Holly Jolly Christmas” blaring in the background?

But the Christmas season goes by too quickly! How can I enjoy all the décor, music and peppermint mochas before Dec. 26?

I’ve spent the better part of my 20 years trying to decide which side of this argument I stand behind. But, like many other moral dilemmas, I just haven’t been able to find an easy answer, changing my position with every passing year and finding no contentment on either side.

This year, though, I’m ending the debate. As an idealist at heart, one of the questions I’m always asking is, “Why not both?” I’ve decided that my love for pumpkin pie and admiration for Christmas lights don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Thanksgiving and Christmas pass by too quickly for me to spend another moment deliberating. This year, I’m celebrating both to my heart’s content. 

After all, there’s too much good in both to be segmented into tiny, one-month-long boxes. Aside from the decorations, festivities and food, both holidays have intangible elements that should transcend the days themselves. 

It’s often easy to get lost in the flurry of the holiday season. For me, the excitement generally begins just before Thanksgiving Day as I tie up loose ends in Tuscaloosa and prepare to travel and field questions from family members that I haven’t seen in months. Amid the whirlwind that is Thanksgiving break, it is easy to become overwhelmed. The semester is ending, but projects, papers and tests are as abundant as the Thanksgiving spread. However, it’s hard to be surrounded by so much excitement and love and not experience some of the gratitude the season is designed to evoke. 

This thankfulness is not just a passing whim that dies away on Black Friday, though. There’s a deeper undercurrent that sticks with me and wells up all throughout the holiday season, a true appreciation for all the circumstances, good and bad, that have led me to where I am and the people that have carried (and sometimes pushed) me through.

Christmas, too, has its own special element that makes it unlike any other part of the year. I always feel as if the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas passes too quickly to fully take in the festivities of the season, especially when half of it is spent finishing the aforementioned projects, papers and tests. Just as I carry the gratitude of Thanksgiving with me throughout the season, the joy of Christmas, that intangible contentment that comes as a result of being surrounded by so much excitement, sticks. 

I see the joy in the faces of children and experience the joy of the celebration of a Savior. Again, it’s not a capricious happiness that can be blown away by the winter wind, but a solid and stalwart joy, an immovable object, an unstoppable force.

So this year, I’m not waiting for a certain date to tap into the fundamentals of the season. Instead, I’m taking it all in now. 

Post-Thanksgiving purists, you’ve only got one week left before Santa and his elves completely take over. But, don’t be afraid to come over to the dark side and get into the Christmas spirit a little bit early. If you ask me, there’s space in the season for both. 

Emily Strickland is a junior majoring in journalism. Her column runs biweekly. 

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